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Evidence Points to a Tragic Error by Iranian Air-Defense Forces

People react in front of a memorial for the flight crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that crashed in Iran, at the Boryspil International airport outside Kiev, Ukraine, January 8, 2020. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

A Pentagon official, a senior U.S. intelligence official, and an Iraqi intelligence official told Newsweek that the Ukrainian flight that crashed just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran this week was struck by an anti-aircraft missile system, fired by accident by the Iranian military. CBS News is reporting similar information.

“The aircraft is believed to have been struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as Gauntlet, the three officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told Newsweek.”

The Iranian response to killing Soleimani ended up accidentally killing 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, eleven Ukrainians (including the crew members), ten Swedish, seven Afghans, and three Germans. But no Americans.

This would mark the second time in recent years that a passenger airliner was destroyed mid-flight by a Russian-built air-defense system; prosecutors in the Netherlands declared in 2018 that a Buk anti-aircraft missile fired by pro-Russia separatists destroyed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014.

(If this is ever confirmed by Iranian authorities, they are likely to remind the world of the July 1988 downing of Iran Air Flight 655, by the USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser. It was one of the most embarrassing moments in American military history, and the United States later paid the Iranian government $131.8 million in compensation, of which $61.8 million would go to the victims’ families.)

If you’re a foreign country that’s using a Russian-built air-defense system, maybe you should ask for a refund. Apparently they’re not so great at distinguishing between passenger airliners and military jets.

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